Basketball passion moves to courtside

Mike VidakovichGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – With Glenwood Springs clinging to a precarious 49-48 lead over Florence in the waning moments of the 1984 Class 2A state championship basketball game, Demon guard Mike Scott was fouled and calmly stepped to the line and sank two free throws to put the game on ice and send Glenwood to its third state championship under coach Bob Chavez.Craig Amichaux, who is in his first year as the Glenwood freshman girls basketball coach, was a starting forward on that ’84 title team. As the years have rolled on, Amichaux’s memories of that game have become a little clouded, but his recollections of the special group of people he played with that season are crystal clear.”The thing is, we had such a balanced team,” said Amichaux, who along with Jon Baranko and Mike Metheney, provided the inside muscle for the Demons. “Everyone on that team understood their role. That’s the key to basketball success.”For Amichaux to be coaching this year’s group of freshmen girls at Glenwood High School is a natural progression from when he started working for the Glenwood Recreation Department in 1994 as a volunteer youth hoops instructor. He coached the current freshman class when they were in fifth and sixth grade. When late autumn arrived this year and his alma mater was still searching for someone to coach this talented group, Amichaux decided to throw his hat into the ring.”They needed a coach, so I talked with (athletics director) Steve Cable,” said Amichaux. “I just wanted to do it so these girls would have someone to help them develop their game.”Amichaux’s basketball roots in Glenwood run deep. He mentions Coach Chavez as providing the initial spark in ingniting his enthusiasm for the game, but he also gives credit to former Mesa State basketball coach Doug Schakel as being a major influence in his love affair with hoops.”Chav was our P.E. teacher at Glenwood Elementary, so he started getting us fired up about basketball at an early age,” recalled Amichaux. “When I attended the Mesa State basketball camp in fifth grade, Coach Schakel talked to us and showed us those old Converse basketball videos with guys like Dr. J. (Julius Erving) – That really got me going.”Even with the busy lifestyle of coaching and managing his family’s business, the Ami’s Acres Campground, Amichaux still finds time to test the old athletic skills by participating in two adult basketball leagues in Glenwood and playing hockey at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.Teaming with new junior varsity coach Betsey Seymour, Amichaux is enjoying the start of the basketball season and the group of young people on his team.For someone so new to the high school coaching ranks, Amichaux has a definite philosophy as to what skills and knowledge he would like his players to gain under his tutelage.”I just want to teach them the fundamentals and an understanding of the game,” said the coach. “I don’t want to take away their natural instincts for the game by having them run a bunch of set plays, that’s not basketball. At the end of the season, I’ll ask them if they had fun and worked as hard as they could each day.”With words like that, Amichaux may be more of a veteran coach than he ever imagined.

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